Improved quality of life associated with outdoor activities in older adults with mobility limitations

Getting outdoors may improve your wellbeing.


What are the effects of outdoor activities on quality of life in individuals with severe mobility limitations?

What was done?

121 participants aged 67-92 years with severe mobility limitations, e.g. wheelchair, were randomly assigned to a outdoor activity group (once per week for 12 weeks). Quality of life measurements were taken after the 12 weeks.

What was found?

Significant improvements in quality of life were observed.

How does this affect me?

Regardless of your level of mobility, getting outdoors may be beneficial to your wellbeing.

Article Abstract

Background: Older community-living disabled people often have unmet activity needs and participation restrictions potentially reducing their quality of life (QoL).
Aims: We examined the effects of an individualized out-of-home activity intervention delivered by volunteers on QoL among community-living older people, who have difficulty accessing the outdoors independently.
Methods: Volunteering, Access to Outdoor Activities and Wellbeing in Older People (VOW; ISRCTN56847832) was a two-arm randomized single-blinded, controlled effectiveness trial (RCT) in Jyväskylä, Finland. The inclusion criteria were: age 65 or over, severe mobility limitation, able to communicate, and agree to participate in a RCT. Each intervention group member was assigned a trained volunteer with whom out-of-home activities were done once a week for 3 months (e.g., running errands or recreational activities). The primary outcome was the environmental subscore of QoL assessed with WHOQOL-BREF. Secondary outcomes were the overall QoL, physical capacity, psychological well-being, and social relationships assessed with WHOQOL_BREF and lower-extremity performance assessed with Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB).
Results: 121 people aged 67–92 years (mean age 81.9 years, SD 5.9, 90 % women) were randomized. No treatment effect on the environmental QoL subscore was observed, but for physical capacity subscore a significant treatment effect was observed (General Linear Model, Group by Time p = 0.001). No effects were observed for the other QoL subscores or for SPPB score.
Discussion:This study suggests that individualized out-of-home activity intervention delivered by volunteers may influence the QoL of old severely mobility-limited community-living people in a positive way.
Conclusion: Further studies are needed to better understand how to improve QoL of older disabled community-living people and potentially buffer them against more severe care needs and institutionalization.

Link to full article.

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